“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is strictly for Nintendo fans


Anya Taylor-Joy voices Princess Peach, a possible love interest for Mario, 2023. Photo courtesy of Universal Studios.

Following the success of the People’s Choice’ Award-nominated 2019 movie “Pokémon: Detective Pikachu,” Nintendo and Illumination in collaboration with Universal Pictures released their version of a cinematic adaptation of a video game titled “The Super Mario Bros. Movie.” Directed by Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic, “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a story about two Italian-American brothers, Mario and Luigi, and their journey from the familiar streets of Brooklyn, New York to the new and mysterious lands of the Mushroom Kingdom and the Kingdom of the Koopas. At the same time the ruler of the Koopas, Bowser, is on a mission to conquer the entire multiverse with the help of the super star. Aaron Horvath and Michael Jelenic are best known for their production work on “Teen Titans Go!

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” serves as an origin story for the beloved Brooklyn plumber brother courtesy of Nintendo. The movie begins a few weeks after the launch of Mario and Luigi’s new plumbing business. The duo struggles to keep their new business afloat while combating negative criticisms from family and community members, but all that changes after they are transported via a mysterious pipe to a new and different world. After being separated, Mario embarks on a journey to find his brother Luigi while simultaneously having to stop Bowser from destroying all worlds. The movie features a lot of thematic choices that were great for an animated movie, like the importance of friendship and family, independence, the value of self-reliance and heroism, but it was immensely specific to fans of the original Nintendo video game. Throughout the movie, Nintendo emphasizes the importance of friendship and family, as illustrated through the familiar bond between Mario and Luigi and through Mario and Princess Peach’s relationship as new friends. The movie also emphasizes the value of heroism as Mario learns throughout the movie the importance of fighting evil regardless of where it is. The movie featured a lot of great themes, on-screen character interactions and comedic references but it was all catered to a niche demographic which is uncharacteristic for a cinematic movie.

Luigi is voiced by Charlie Day in "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," 2023. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Luigi is voiced by Charlie Day in “The Super Mario Bros. Movie,” 2023. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

In addition to the thematic choices used in the movie, Nintendo tried to utilize on-screen character interactions and characterization to convey the theme of the movie but, due to the lack of origin stories or even subtle origin references, the majority of the on-screen characters were most likely confusing to those who aren’t Nintendo fans. Mario, voiced by Chris Pratt, is the movie’s titular protagonist. He is a protective, cheerful, loyal, impulsive and courageous plumber. He is defined by his red hat, blue overalls and signature mustache. Luigi, voiced by Charlie Day, is the brother and business partner of our protagonist and is the movie’s deuteragonist. Similar to his brother, he is a plumber defined by his green hat and blue overalls. He is a smart, timid, extremely cautious, good-natured and neurotic person that ultimately just wants to support his brother. Princess Peach, voiced by Anya Taylor-Joy, is the movie’s tritagonist and a friend to our protagonist and deuteragonist and a potential love interest for Mario. She is an adventurous, clever, sociable and optimistic ruler of the Mushroom Kingdom. Her profound love for her subjects and respect for others becomes the driving force that leads our protagonist towards heroism. Bowser, voiced by Jack Black, is the movie’s main antagonist. He is an extremely powerful, sinister, angry and immature individual who tries to conquer the entire multiverse in an effort to win over Princess Peach. The movie also features other characters that were inserted for the sole purpose of appeasing the fans like Donkey Kong, voiced by Seth Rogen, Toad, voiced by Keegan-Michael Key, and so on.

Bowser, voiced by Jack Black, seeks more power by conquering various worlds, 2023. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.
Bowser, voiced by Jack Black, seeks more power by conquering various worlds, 2023. Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures.

Lastly, Nintendo heavily utilizes comedic references to capture the audience and keep them interested in the movie but fails to do so for the most part. Most of the references made throughout the movie were either extremely humorous or were not. The movie originated from the popular 1985 video game “The Super Mario Bros” and this is very evident if you grew up playing the game and all its iterations. As stated above, Nintendo discovered that there is a high demand for cinematic adaptations of popular video games and decided to bring their most popular game to the big screens. Although “The Super Mario Bros.” is a pretty popular video game, not everyone has played or even heard of it and Nintendo failed to remember this when creating the movie.

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is a movie strictly for Nintendo fans. Released April 5, the movie features a lot of themes and references that are great if you are a longtime fan of the video games. The movie is a great watch but I strongly suggest that you get well versed in the Mario universe before watching it. The movie is currently in theaters but will be available for streaming on Peacock on August 5.

I rate this movie a 2.5 out of 5